Creative Landscaping Finishing Touches

5 Ways to Use Reclaimed Wood in Your Garden

Creating an inviting garden space that’s uniquely beautiful and eco-friendly doesn’t have to be difficult. There are many ways to utilize salvaged materials for a rustic appearance that’s also gentle on the purse strings. In fact, salvaged materials are quickly becoming some of the most popular components for backyard design for enterprising homeowners.

Cedar rails and authentic railway ties are two examples of previously used building supplies that homeowners are incorporating into their garden spaces. Collected from defunct rail yards and discontinued lines, railway ties and cedar rails offer a classic Canadian style with a sturdy look that elevates any outdoor area.

Though there are dozens of ways to appropriate these materials, here are a few suggestions on how to use these unusual elements to heighten the look of a home.


fencing The most common use for ties is in fencing. But, that doesn’t mean there aren’t numerous styles of fencing from which to choose. A simple post and rail fence is popular, and offers a western flair to a large, open space. Especially useful if there are large animals to keep in (or out), a post and rail fence isn’t just aesthetically attractive it’s also practical.

Keep in mind: it’s not so effective at securing smaller animals or children, who can slip in between the lines and escape. For better containment, try panel fencing.

Arbor or Pergola

Photo credit to
Kimberley Bryan

A successful garden will have several different details that draw the eye and create depth and dimension. One way to create a multidimensional outdoor space is to include elements like an arbor or pergola, which are beautifully made from cedar rails and railway ties.

Very simple in shape, an arbor provides not only a charming feature, but also a shady spot where a lounge chair or bench might sit. Like fencing, there are many different models from which to choose, and each homeowner can customize their pergola to suit their needs.

Seating & Dining

seating dining
Photo credit to

Build a rustic and unique bench using salvaged wood materials, or follow the lead of this unique salvage table design.

Raised Beds and Retaining Walls

Photo credit to
Hertzler George under cc2.

Another opportunity for a special detail in a personalized garden is in raised flower or vegetable beds using cedar rails. Just about any kind of wood can work for this project, but the railway ties, with their pitted and textured surfaces, offer such an honest and provincial look they immediately elevate the appearance of an otherwise commonplace feature. Plus, considerably fewer ties are needed to make this project a success, an important detail for those on a budget or with smaller space.

The same is true of retaining walls. Depending on the size of the area, the amount of materials needed is relatively manageable, the look is different enough to warrant comment and admiration and it’s more than adequately functional for the purposes.


There are unlimited creative garden edging options. View our previous blog to see an example of reclaimed wood in an English style garden.

Fans of eco-friendly landscaping should investigate the usefulness of cedar rails and railway ties immediately for their homes. These unique materials are beautiful, rustic, practical and durable. The spirit of the American West lives in these rail ties, and now that feeling lives on in backyards everywhere.